To the uninitiated, or to those who went through the coming out system in the U.S., the idea of a debutante ball might reverberate somewhat stuffily—queue visions of misappropriated wedding gowns and country club dances—but for the 25 young ladies who debut in Paris each year, the matter is altogether different. For debutantes of Le Bal, it means painstakingly stitched haute couture, cavaliers (young men and not canines, though we’re fans of both), and an introduction into the uppermost echelons of society and high fashion. In 2005, Forbes magazine recognized this international event, a Parisian institution, as one of the world’s most illustrious occasions, one important to the worlds of fashion, society, and business across the globe.
Le Bal des Débutantes has existed in its modern iteration since 1992. PR maven Ophélie Renouard brought together a more diversified grouping of young women for the event, pulling in debutantes from familial backgrounds in the arts, business, royalty, and politics, from countries all over the world, updating what began in the U.K. as a means of introducing aristocratic young maidens to the Queen once they turned 18. In those days, the young ladies wore white dresses, white gloves, and tiaras. The tradition of debuting came to France in 1957, ceased after period of civil unrest in May 1968, and forged its more modern history with the help of Renouard.
Without a invitation and ticket, it is impossible to attend. For the invited, it means an evening in the finest couture, debuting into society, dinner, dancing— and the important aspect of philanthropy. Le Bal raises funds for a duo of non profit organizations. One is Seleni, a New York-based philanthropy that funds healthcare research assisting teenage mothers. The other is Enfants d’Asie, which helps provide education for young girls in southeast Asia — roughly 1,100 each year are provided for through Le Bal.
Society darlings such as Delphine Arnault, Julia Puig, Lady Amelia Windsor, Sophia-Rose Stallone, Amanda and Lydia Hearst, Lauren and Ashley Bush, Dree Hemingway, Kathleen and Kyra Kennedy, Scout and Tallulah Willis, Lily Collins, Princess Lorenza de Liechtenstein, and Princess Fawzia Latifa d’Egypt—the daughters of rock stars, royals, politicians and business leaders—were all introduced to society in this manner.
Traditionally the event takes places at the storied Hotel de Crillon in Place de la Concorde in Paris. With renovations underway to revitalize the venue, Le Bal has just temporarily relocated. As beautiful of a background as the Crillon provides, the real draw of the evening are the debutantes in their dresses, lighting up society in yards upon yards of the finest couture.
Photographs in Order of Appearance from Left to Right: Nadja Soma wears Alexandre Vauthier dress and corset (underneath), necklace Chanel Joaillerie, shoes Gianvito Rossi, Bartholomé Chapel wears (throughout) shirt, bow tie, waistcoat, tailcoat, trousers, shoes Lanvin. Dress with Swarovski crystals Aouadi, dress Schiaparelli, bracelet Chanel Joaillerie. Dress Atelier Versace, necklace Bulgari, cuff de Beers, tiara Crinoligne, gown Giambattista Valli, necklace De Beers, tiara Crinoligne. Cape Chanel Haute Couture, earrings and brooches Chanel, dress Ulyana Sergeenko, bracelet Chanel Joaillerie, Tiara Crinoligne. Dress Armani Privé, necklace Chanel Joaillerie, earrings Chanel Joaillerie, shoes Gianvito Rossi, cape, top and skirt (underneath) Chanel Haute Couture. Cape, top, and skirt Chanel haute couture, earrings and brooches Chanel, shoes Gianvito Rossi, dress with Swarovski crystals Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci, earrings Bulgari. Les “Nouvelles Débutantes,” 2001
Hair Olivier Schawalder
Make up Topolino
Manicure Sophie A
Choreographer Audrey Roehrich
Photograph Assistant Lennart Sydney Kofi
Retoucher Kniv Retouching
Words Alyssa ShapiroEND
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createdAt:Fri, 28 Apr 2017 15:33:59 +0000